Padre Dam Formation

Padre Dam was formed in 1976 when voters approved a merger of Santee County Water District, formed in 1956, with Rio San Diego Municipal Water District, formed in 1955. The District is named for the Old Mission Dam, built circa 1807; a historic water landmark located nearby. The dam provided water to the Mission San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769, the first of California's 21 Spanish missions. The District now uses 1955 as its origination date.

Black and white image of worker on a dam

Rio San Diego Municipal Water District

On November 8, 1955, voters approved the formation of the Rio San Diego Municipal Water District (PDF) to secure an entitlement to imported water from the Colorado River and provide essential water to a previously undeveloped valley. Rio San Diego WD was responsible for the delivery and sale of water from the San Diego County Water Authority to existing retail water agencies in the area.

Santee County Water District

The Santee County Water District was formed on October 2, 1956 under the County Water District Law of the State of California Water Code. The rapid expansion of the Santee community soon required installation of sewer disposal facilities, and a wastewater treatment plant was constructed. In 1959, discharge quality requirements became more stringent and the plant could not stand up to the new standards. Therefore, under the direction of Ray Stoyer, the District embarked on the unique project of recycling wastewater for irrigation and commercial purposes.

At the end of the treatment process became a chain of seven recycled water lakes. Boating and fishing were authorized in 1961 and Santee Lakes opened to the public for recreation. The recycled water project and Santee Lakes received worldwide attention and continues to attract visitors in the field of water reuse and reclamation.

Padre Dam Water Resources Agency

In July 1969, the Board of Directors of Santee County Water District and Rio San Diego Municipal Water District entered into an agreement to combine management and engineering functions. The concept was that combining services would create cost savings and improve services.

In October 1972, a joint exercise of powers agreement created Padre Dam Water Resources Agency to finance and construct an office for the two water agencies.

Image of water flowing over dam

On December 31, 1976, after a public vote Rio San Diego Municipal Water District took over Santee County Water District and changed its name to Padre Dam Municipal Water District.

Today, Padre Dam provides potable water, wastewater collection and treatment, water recycling and recreational facilities to Santee, Blossom Valley, Dehesa, Crest, Alpine, Harbison Canyon, Flinn Springs and a small portion of Lakeside and El Cajon.